Saturday, July 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Okay, it took me a few days to post again...but we are home. Our flight from Istanbul to JFK was fine, until we landed. We then had to sit in the airplane for an hour and a half until a gate opened up. I guess there had been tornados and thunder storms in the area all day and it really messed the airport up. After clearing customs we rechecked our bags and ran to our next gate, at the other end of the airport! We got there only to realize that our plane was delayed. Our 7pm flight didn't board until 9pm and then sat on the runway to wait out a storm until midnight! We landed in Atlanta about 2am. Then we had to wait for all the luggage to come off the plane until we realized that Jon's guitar did not make the flight! So, we made it home (thanks to our friend Nigel who was willing to come get us at that ungodly hour and then wait at the airport for another hour while we did the luggage thing!)at 4 am. We all went to bed and slept for about 5 hours. Today is our 3rd day home, and I think the jet lag is starting to go away! It is amazing to me how the boys seem to be able to jump from time zone to time zone and it doesn't seem to affect them too much, but Jon and I are dragging!
Today is also Jon's birthday. No big plans, just spent the day together. I am grateful to God for putting Jon and I together. He is my best friend, and I love being on this journey of life with him! Happy Birthday Baby! I pray that you continue to let God guide you this year and that you continue to become the man who God created you to be! I love you lots!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On our own

Today the team (minus the boys and I) drove 3 hours to the city of Bursa. They left this morning, will have a concert tonight in a bar (which is why the kids and I did not go!), and will be back here in Istanbul about 4 am! This is the last concert of the tour. So, the boys and I had a really lazy day at the apartment. We played computer games and watched some tv...The Weakest Link on BBC! Then we left and went for a walk down by the Sea of Marmara, it is so beautiful! I love being by the water again. The boys stopped and played at a park for a while, and then we went to a local restaurant and had dinner and a really yummy piece of cheesecake! Then we walked back home. We only have 4 days left before we return home. The time here has gone so fast! In many ways I am ready to return home, and in some ways I wish we could stay here longer. The feelings for going home do out number the ones for staying! I will miss the food here! God has given us such a special gift with this experience. Even though the ministry side of things didn't go as expected, with all the canceled concerts, I really have seen God move. Last night we were invited to join a 24 hour prayer service. Jon with the band lead worship for an hour. There was about 40-50 people there, and man...they were singing out praises to God! It was so uplifting to just be in the presence of these believers! I think it was knowing that here we were in a country with only a few thousand believers in it, and to hear this small group of people praising was something I will never forget! You could just feel God in the room! It was exciting! I just found myself praying out for these people, to be strengthened, and encouraged. For them to just be able to go out into the city of Istanbul and bring more people into the Kingdom. How cool would it be for a full out revival to start in Turkey! Anyway, that has been my prayer these past few weeks. We may not have been able to do what we came here to do, but I still think that God has used us, and I know that I have a bigger view of God now. I have been changed. The next few days will be filled up with more site seeing here in Istanbul, last minute shopping and saying goodbye to our friends here. I am sure I will post again before we get home!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Changes...

Well, we were supposed to leave today to drive back down to the Izmir area. But the show that we thought we had down there, was canceled...once again we were denied by the local government. It is becoming something like a broken record with this tour! We were all feeling a bit disappointed, frustrated, and not sure what to do next. We came together as a team to pray and worship. It was an awesome few hours of worshiping, and crying out to God for this country and it's people. Also, really just asking God what He wants us to do now. So, it was decided for us not to make the 9 hour drive down there for a bar gig that we had lined up just to fill a night while we were there. The bar was called and they understood that we could not afford to come just for that night (they weren't paying us)and now we are still in Istanbul. The leader of our team reminded us that for this tour, we were trying things that have never been done in Turkey and of course the enemy is not happy with us. We have felt that at every turn. So with all that, we are also not going to see Ephesus. I was really disappointed about this at first, but quickly decided that there is not anything anyone can do about it, and that I was still enjoying everything I have seen here in Istanbul. I really just had to pray for God to take away my disappointment (it took a few times praying it, because I wanted to keep taking it back!), but I think in the long run it worked! I am completely okay with missing Ephesus...it will just give us another reason to visit again someday!
Today (Wednesday) we woke up to a little rain. Jon had to be at a band practice and the boys and I decided to go with another team member to go sight seeing. We were going to go back to the European side to visit the Sultan's Palace. So, we took the train to the ferry stop, got on the ferry, and about half the way over there, it started to STORM! Thunder and lightning and lots of rain! Of course when we got off the ferry we had to walk. By the time we got to the palace, we were soaking wet, and cold. We decided not to go inside after all (it cost 10 lira per person). We decided that we would enjoy it more on a dry day when we weren't so miserable! So, we walked back down to the ferry, and went home. We were supposed to meet up with the team this evening for the band to do some street music, but decided against it because of the weather. The boys and I decided to have Burger King for dinner. Funny, it taste the same as it does in the States...you can take that to be good or bad! We have been here 21 days now, and my stomach has been fine, until tonight...thanks Burger King! Tomorrow we are meeting as a team again for more prayer and worship. I will try to write again tomorrow night!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amazed in Turkey

Wow, I feel so grateful for this opportunity my family has been given. To actually be able to live in another culture for a month. It is completely eye opening and life changing. I walk to the grocery store almost every day for fresh bread and fruit. At first the grocery clerk ignored me, but now she smiles and tells me hello (merhaba). I feel like I have been accepted! If this had been a "normal" tour for Jon, I would not have had this experience of being in one place for so long. He usually gets to the country, and they don't stay in one place longer then a few days. I think this is great for the kids as well, to be able to experience this at a young age. To really know that the rest of the world lives nothing like we do in America! It also had made me realize how blessed we are to live in America. Turks are very friendly people, they smile at you (especially at the kids), and they really do try to communicate with you even if they don't know a word in English! I have felt very welcome here.

Saturday we had a sight seeing day. After sleeping in we got up and took a train (we always take a train!), and a ferry boat across to the Europe side of Istanbul. From there we walked to the Grand Bazaar. Wow...that is like nothing I have ever experienced before! Very crowded and people doing everything they can to get you into their shops! I am not big on the whole bartering thing, but you realize you have to if there is something you really want. Because they start out REALLY high! I was interested in buying a table runner for our piano and I found one I like that is mostly silk. The shop keeper started his price out at 170 lira (about $150)...okay, there was no way I was paying anything near that price. I really just wanted to walk out of the shop, but he wouldn't let me! I told him I only wanted to spend about 20 lira on something...and he said no way for the silk one and showed me a few cotton runners that would be about 20 lira. Well, I didn't like any of them, so I just decided to keep looking. I was a little bummed because I really did like the runner, but I don't have that kind of money (even if I am American!). As I was walking out of the shop, he gave one last offer of 30 lira. That I decided I could handle and bought the runner. If it is even worth that, I will probably never know but I was amazed at how much the price went down when I decided to walk away! We were also able to buy some gifts. We also went to the Hagia Sophia which is more then 1,400 years old. It used to be a Christian Church, but was later taken over by the Muslims and turned into a mosque. It was amazing to walk around in it and look at the mosaics that are still inside. We had fun talking about the Christians who used to worship there and how amazing the singing must have sounded in that building! There are still a few other places we want to visit in Istanbul, but it will have to wait until the last few days we are here. We will be traveling back down to the Izmir area on Wednesday. Sometime during the week we will get to go see Ephesus! I can't wait to see it!
Today, we slept in and had a very lazy day at the apartment. About 4:20pm we caught the train and met up with Chris. He walked us to his apartment and we stayed and visited with him, Sara, Sara's mom (from Canada), and baby Jude. He is so cute and tiny! It was fun to hold a tiny baby!
Right now I am sitting in the apartment again, the kids are in bed, Jon is playing Nintendo DS and we are listening to the call to prayer through the open window. I don't know, I actually like the sound of it. I know some people don't, because it is part of the whole Islamic religion, but I have been using it as a reminder for me to pray for the country and it's people. It has become kind of a sweet reminder. It adds to the whole exotic, foreign atmosphere as well!
Well, we have 3 concerts left that are scheduled and maybe one more that is still in the works. I have lots of mixed feelings about still being on an adventure, and ready to be heading home as well. Well, anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!

Us walking through the Emperors door at the Hagia Sophia




The Grand Bazaar

Friday, July 11, 2008

Update on our trip to Izmir

Well, I am sitting in our apartment in Istanbul once again. The boys are tucked into bed, and Jon and the band are on the European side of Istanbul for a concert tonight at a nightclub. For obvious reasons, the boys and I are skipping this show. Actually, I would have loved to be there, but oh well. The show doesn't even start till 10:30 pm...so I am sure they won't be home until at least 3 am!

Last Sunday we loaded up the van and drove 9 hours to the city of Izmir. We stayed in a host home. The men had the top level of this house, the women the second level, and our family was in a little unit outside of the house. The levels of the house were also like separate apartments. In our unit, Jon and I had a mattress on the floor of a bedroom, and the boys had bunk beds in a room to themselves. We had a mini kitchen, but no fridge, and a room with a toilet and shower together (this is common in Turkey). The bathroom was very clean, and that pleased me! Basically, I looked at it as a place to sleep. It was about 100 degrees in Izmir and of course no air conditioning made sleeping difficult. We did leave our window open in our bedroom, but our curtain rod kept falling, so most nights we just left the curtain off and hoped no one peeked in! We had our first concert on Monday night. It was in a town that has no church and no believers in it. They had a new amphitheater that we were playing in, so new that they didn't even have electrical power until a few hours before the show. We got there for set up and people were still working in it! There was no shade to be found and we were working on set up in the hot sun for hours. This was the first of 3 concerts we were doing this week that were set up with the city council. I think this was new for TACO as well. We had about 200 people show up to the concert (this was what we call a closed concert, which means we don't actually talk about Jesus from the stage) and everyone really seemed to enjoy the music. We handed out lyrics in Turkish and also had a "fan club" sheet that people could sign up on. This is basically a way to get contact info for people who would be interested in attending other concerts. The city was suppose to feed us dinner after the show, and put us up in their new hotel and feed us breakfast. Well, when we got there we were told that the hotel is not finished, it has no power or beds. Okay, at least we still had this other house to stay in. After the concert there was a little scuffle with the police. Someone had complained to them about the lyrics of the songs containing the name Jesus. That is when it seems like accusations started flying at us. Apparently we were promising people jobs, collecting names and addresses so we could send out New Testements, and praying with minors. Now, this is a country that you are legally suppose to be able to worship how ever you want, but it is against the law to try to convert a minor. We were told this at the beginning of the tour, and if someone did actually pray with a minor, I am not sure. Needless to say, our dinner was canceled. The next morning we got up and had a phone call from the city where that night we were suppose to do a concert...they had gotten a phone call from the city from the night before. They canceled us because they had "electrical problems". We decided to use that day to go to the next town where we were scheduled for the next night and do promotion. The town didn't have any time to put up the poster we had sent them. After waiting for about 2 hours to get permission to do this (and having to answer questions about the other concert and reassure them that we were not passing out Bibles we started going store to store asking to hang posters. After about an hour of this and hearing lots of people say how excited they were to come watch, we got a phone call...yep we were canceled! AHHHHHH!!!!!! I don't think I really ever heard an official reason for it. So, with our tails tucked between our legs we went back to our house and decided what to do. Of course through all this there was lots of prayer going on. We decided to take the night and set up a acoustic concert in Izmir (where we were having a show Thursday night at a church) along the water front of the Aegean Sea. It was beautiful there! We had lots of people sitting around to listen and we handed out lots of flyers. The concert Thursday night was great. I did see a few guys come that we had met the night before. But after reading through some of the stuff we had, they decided to leave. bummer. I think it was mostly church people there, but it was great to be able to encourage them. They really enjoyed it. Then Friday morning we loaded up the van again, drove 9 hours back to Istanbul, to drop the boys and I off...and now they are doing the nightclub tonight!

Tomorrow is our first official day off. I know Jon will want to sleep in, and then I am hoping we will go back to the European side of Istanbul to do some site seeing! We have been here 2 weeks now, and have not had time to do that!

There is a concert Sunday, and then I think on Tuesday we head back down past Izmir to Selcuk (I might be spelling that wrong!) to do more concerts. Next week I will also get to visit Ephesus! yippee! I hope that catches you up on things. Please keep praying for this country! We love you guys!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Izmir

We are now in Izmir. I wıll post more when we get back to Istanbul next week. We have had 2 concerts cancelled this week at the last minute. I wıll try to go into detail next week. It is really hot here...please keep praying! Thanks!

Friday, July 04, 2008

aghhhh...

I did not sleep last night at all! We went to bed shortly after midnight, and I just laid there feeling wide awake! One of the problems I am having at night is it never seems to get really dark. I like it REALLY dark when I sleep. It gets sorta dark around 10 pm and then it is daylight again by 5:30 am. I finally felt like I started to drift off to sleep when the 4:30 am call to prayer started up! It seemed like it went on forever! This was the first time I had heard it early in the morning. Then I started to go back to sleep when I was woken up by Jon's alarm at 7:00 am, he had to leave for practice by 8. I am hoping I got a few hours of sleep...I think I will go make some coffee! Tonight is our first concert, and it will be a super late night...I think I will take some Tylenol PM before bed, hope it helps! Oh, by the way Happy 4th of July everyone! :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Be Flexible...

I have been hearing this phrase for months now, either from Jon, or at church, or from friends who have done trips like this before. Well, today I am realizing why. We woke up this morning to our phone ringing. It was a TACO team member, telling us that our drummer and his wife are in the hospital. She is pregnant and her water broke this morning (she is 5 weeks early). This threw a bit of a wrench into the plans for this tour. Our first concert is tomorrow, and another one on Saturday. We leave on Sunday to drive to Izmir for a week of touring (I think there is a concert planned for everyday). Do we scramble and look for another drummer, or switch the musicians around that we do have and have Jon play bass, and our current bass player switch to drums...or have Jon try to drum and sing at the same time...or maybe just scale down to a more acoustic group and not really worry about drums? What ever they decide to do, it is going to require more practice, either to learn new parts or whatever. The nice thing is that nobody seems too stressed about this situation. It is nice to know that God is in control, and we will move forward to do what we came here to do. He will be glorified! Right now, I am thankful that she went into labor today, and not a few days from now when we were actually 9 hours away! I am excited for them also as they begin this new season of life and become parents!

Ty and Devon have done really well on this trip so far. They have had to sit through some pretty long orientation type meetings. Yesterday, we did some advertising for the concert on Friday night. We went into Istanbul on the Europe side and set up on the street to do a mini street concert (very stripped down) across the street from where the concert was actually going to be. We couldn't actually hand out anything on the street, but we left the guitar case open with little poster type things in it that people could take. After about 2 songs, the police came and shut us down. We packed up and started walking back to the train. After a few blocks the decision was made to set up again and start playing. This time they played for maybe 45 minutes. There were times that quite a crowd would stop and listen. Anyway, back to Ty and Devon...after we got back to the Asia side of Istanbul, we went to a town square type place to actually hand things out. The boys really wanted to help out with this! A little background on turks and kids. They seem to love children! We can't go anywhere without someone rubbing Devon's head, or touching his face. I guess it is because he is blonde. Dev has been really good about this, and it doesn't bother him at all! I would have freaked out at his age if it were me! Anyway, we used that to our advantage when it came time to hand things out. And anyone who knows Devon, knows he is not really shy. He was having so much fun handing these papers out! At one point I was watching him, he was standing behind Jon (who was also trying to hand them out), people who would tell Jon no, would then take one if Devon handed it to them! It was hilarious! After a while we just all gave Devon and Ty our piles and they handed them out for us! I have pictures that I will get posted soon. After that we went to get some dinner. It was probably about 8:30 pm when we got to an outdoor cafe. I was told this was what Turks would consider fast food. Now, I don't know what my sandwich was called, but I will describe it for you the best I can. So far the food here has been excellent! Now, let me warn you, this might not sound so good, but it was so yummy! It was basically a grilled sandwich which was stuffed with some kind of meat (closest I can think of would be salami), white cheese, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, (this is where is gets a bit weird), kinda like a potato salad, and french fries. It was so yummy! Ty and Jon each had a sandwich with shaved chicken, lettuce, tomato, pickles and french fries and wrapped in like a flat bread. Devon has some like meat ball thing, except they were kinda flat and oval shaped. It all tasted really good! On our way back to the train to go home for the night we stopped and got Magnum bars (really yummy ice cream bars...kinda like Dove bars, but better!).

I am sure there is so much more I could tell you...there is a lot I am trying to process in my brain right now before I right it out! It has really blown my mind, the experience of being in a foreign country for the first time. Anyway, I am sure I will write more about that side of things in the next day or so!

Thanks for reading, I promise to get more pictures up soon!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Life in Turkey

Here are a few things we have learned the past few days of living in Turkey.

1. Never flush toilet paper down the toilet. There is usually a little trash can next to the toilet where the paper goes... enough said.

2. Always remove your shoes when entering someone's house.

3. Watch out for cars, because they are not really watching out for you!

4. The call to prayer happens 5 times a day and sounds a bit like an air raid siren when it starts up!

5. Never overcrowd a turkish elevator.

This last one we learned by experience. The first day we were here 5 of us crowded into our flat's elevator. We pressed the floor button to go UP, the door closed and locked, then we felt the elevator drop a few inches and the lights went out. Now, anyone who knows me pretty well, knows that I do not do well in tight, enclosed spaces. I was in a corner, in a crowded elevator, where the heat seemed to rise at least 5 degrees instantly, trying not to panic! I noticed Jon knelt down in front of me, not sure if he did this to try and give me more space or what, but I was grateful. I just sat there praying that we would get out soon, and trying to not have visions of being in this elevator for hours! Luckily someone was out in the hall and realized what had happened. They got the key to the elevator door and opened it for us. I am sure we weren't even in there for 5 minutes, but it seemed like hours! Needless to say, I have not stepped back into the elevator...I will us the stairs from now on, thank you!

Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday Jon has had to be at band practice, so the boys and I are on our own. We have walked around our neighborhood quite a bit. Yesterday, I had plans in the morning to go find the money exchange place (we were told it was about a 25 minute walk), and go to the grocery store. I was supposed to bring a dessert to the team dinner that night. Devon woke up not feeling very well, but we thought maybe he was hungry (he hasn't eaten much since we got here), so I got him to eat a little breakfast. Thinking he was going to be okay, we set out on our adventure. When we were walking down the street he threw up. I was ready to turn back to the apartment, but Devon said he felt much better, so we kept going. A little later, he needed to stop and rest. Then we started going again, and a little later he threw up again! Okay, at this point I wasn't really sure what to do. We were almost to the money exchange (at least I hoped we were!), and I really needed to get some of our personal money exchanged. So, the loving mother I am, I convinced Dev to keep going and told him we could stop and rest when ever he needed to. Needless to say, the 25 minute walk turned into 1 hour. We finally found the place, exchanged our money, and started back to the flat. Devon threw up again, this time right in the middle of the sidewalk. I was trying to help him and no be mortified that he was doing this right on the sidewalk, when a little old lady came up and started rubbing his back and saying something to him. She smiled at me and I think said , "tamam" which means okay in turkish. I thanked her in Turkish, which surprised me, because I have trouble with the turkish word for thank you, must have been a God thing! I poured some of my water bottle onto the sidewalk, to at least help clean it up, and we were on our way again. Devon let me stop at the grocery store, where I bought him some Sprite, and we looked for something for dessert. I thought if I could find something that looked like rice krispies I would make rice krispie treats, no such luck. I looked in the dessert aisle and thought, "who am I kidding, I can't read the directions to any of these things!" So, I bought some cookies and fruit. The fruit here is amazing! So fresh and juicy! Ty and I also bought our first (and I am sure will NOT be our last) Magnum bars. Kinda like Dove ice cream bars, but waaaay better! Why don't we have these in America? By the time we made it back to our flat it was over 2 hours later! Devon threw up I think 5 times during our walk. When we got back he laid on the couch and watched a movie, and then was fine the rest of the day. By the time dinner was last night, he was hungry...a good sign!

This morning we are taking it easy at the flat, and then around 3pm the boys and I will catch the train to an outdoor market, and then meet up with the team to help stuff envelopes or something like that for some concerts. They said the boys could help stamp them. This will be the first time we have taken the train by ourselves. It is amazing to me that these things are not making me scared. I don't normally think of myself as a very independent person, but here I am walking around, exploring, shopping, and catching trains in a foreign country and feeling fine about it! I even told the boys I would take them out to lunch today! God is so good! I know that is the only reason I am here, because He loves me and has enabled me to be strong in that love. I truly feel like I am only trusting in Him, what a great feeling! I will write more later and let you know how the day went!